By Andy Zellinger, Research Analyst
The residents of the Standard Heights community in Baton Rouge are working hard to get cleaner air in their neighborhood. Their neighborhood association has partnered with Louisiana Bucket Brigade – and they are doing an incredible job organizing around finding solutions to the stinky air and negative health effects caused by nearby petrochemical industry complexes. Although the nearby ExxonMobil Refinery and Chemical Plant seems like the most common offender due to its proximity to their neighborhood, there are several other chemical plants in the area that have been emitting harmful amounts of pollution – one of those is Formosa Plastics.
Formosa Plastics has submitted six different incident reports to the Coast guard’s National Response Center in the past two weeks. Luckily we do not have to rely solely on self-reports from industry management – Bucket Brigade also documents community members experiences with our iWitness Pollution Map. Some days, like last Monday, the residents are able to promptly report how they were affected by a chemical accident before the company even discovers it. Last Monday, July 22nd, 2013, there were 2 reports received by our iWitness Pollution map regarding an acid smell from the industrial area around Formosa Plastics. Here is one of those reports from Monday, July 22nd:
“I’m on the corner of Lockwood and Chippewa, 1502 Chippewa. I smell a
strong smell of acid, smells like an acid. It’s so strong it makes
your eyes water over here. My name is John Barlow. Mr. Jake Spears is
here with me and he’s saying the same thing at the tire shop here on
the corner of Chippewa and Lockwood. We about to pass out right here.”
These individuals reported their exposure to some unknown acid over an hour before the company submitting their report to the NRC detailing what the community was actually being exposed to – hydrochloric acid, vinyl chloride, and ethyl chloride. The brave members of Standard Heights continue to work hard to document how their health is affected from frequently over their permit polluters like Formosa Plastics. Their observations and experiences help validate that there is a serious impact from industrial complexes that clearly need to work harder to ensure the families living along their fence line have clean, healthy air to breathe.